- Chris Morris
- Feb 9, 2016
- 4497 Views
The Conservative government has failed to spend millions worth of cash that was set aside for new mothers and children suffering from mental illness, according to figures acquired by media.
This will be considered particularly reprehensible by mental health campaigners, as Cameron had previously pledged to deliver a “revolution” in mental health care.
Instead, new Whitehall figures reveal that £87 million that was earmarked for this critical health area during this year has not been utilised.
The timing of this news couldn’t have been at a worse time for the Tories, coming as it does at the beginning of Children’s Mental Health Week.
And the Labour party predictable seized on the figures to warn that ministers needed to act more urgently on the public health emergency affecting a large chunk of the population.
The health minister Alistair Burt was forced to conceded in a response to his Labour shadow Luciana Berger that only £1.3m of a £15m package was being spent by NHS England this year.
Burt defended this fact by statng that “work is underway on how they spend the rest of the money”.
“NHS England will work with partners over the coming months to develop the new programme for improving specialist perinatal mental health services. This will include setting detailed plans for how the additional investment will be targeted over the period to 2020/21,” Burt added.
And in a second Parliamentary answer, Burt also admitted that over the course of this Parliament for young people’s and children’s mental health, just “£173 million of this has been allocated in 2015-16”.
Attempting to defend its policies, the government stated that it had already diverted a huge amount of money to mental health, and that this would kick in over the next few years.
But Berger condemned the government’s record.
“These figures highlight the gulf between what Ministers promise on mental health and what they actually do. It is appalling that even where the Government has committed funding – to children’s mental health services and support for new and expectant mothers – it has never fully materialised. Services on the ground are struggling to cope with demand and can’t afford these broken promises. Self harming amongst children has soared and too many are left to struggle without the help they need,” Berger stated.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education defended government policy, outlining the positive aspects, and striking a note of optimism for the future.
“We’re at a turning point in how we tackle children’s mental health issues and are determined to get it right. That’s why we’re investing £1.4bn over this Parliament to transform mental health support for children and young people, and have also given £1.5m over the last 3 years to projects involving Place2Be.”
One indication of the level of mental health difficulties in the UK is the fact that nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression, while over 8,000 children aged under 10 years old suffer from severe depression